hope 1: spacesuit art project

Project Overview
The Hope 1: Spacesuit Art Project consist of the fabrication of three
uniquely different custom made life-size spacesuit replicas made from
hand painted pieces of art on canvas that pediatric cancer patients
create while in the hospital receiving cancer treatments.
ILC Dover, the contractor who makes NASA’s Spacesuits, stitched
together the children's art work to make the spacesuit replicas.
All of the spacesuit replicas will travel to events, museums,
conferences and other relevant places as a communications tool for
childhood cancer awareness.
The project is a collaboration between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, ILC Dover, and the
University of Texas MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital’s Arts in Medicine Program to help to raise
awareness to the issues surrounding childhood cancer and reveal the positive connection between the arts and
the healing process. This special project brought childhood cancer patients, their families, NASA scientists,
astronauts, engineers, and MD Anderson doctors and staff all together on this unique endeavor. The project is
an amazing story of human triumph and hope by combining science, technology, the arts, and the indomitable
human spirit. The spacesuits are a stunningly beautiful representation of what can happen when art, science,
and the healing process unite.
The Arts and Medicine Program
The University of Texas MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital Arts in
Medicine Program’s one goal is to help young patients going through
cancer treatment feel better. Ian Cion, artist-in-residence and director of
the Arts in Medicine Program at MD Anderson, works with pediatric
patients and their families on collaborative, large-scale projects and oneon-one art sessions. These activities give patients a sense of control and
purpose, reduce anxiety and pain, make patients more comfortable in the
hospital and build community among patients and families.
NASA’s mission engenders hope and inspiration by
exploring the unknowns of the universe. Many times this
exploration of the unknowns is analogous to the journey
the children are on while fighting cancer. The project helps
children battling cancer feel better and, at the same time,
makes them feel a part of something bigger than their
current circumstances.
Project Background:
While working with patients and families on small- and large-scale art
projects, Ian realized patients enjoyed both social and medical benefits
through the arts. Patients shared with Ian during his art classes that they
felt calm and much better about their treatment when they were
participating in art. Group art projects like the Hope 1: Spacesuit Art
Project also help young cancer patients overcome isolation, a challenge
both for space explorers and children battling cancer often face. Often, the
kids paint images of the sky and space, and they talk about future dreams
of becoming astronauts and explorers. That inspired Ian with new vision for
a collaborative project of creating artistic spacesuit replicas. The idea was
for pediatric cancer patients to paint on pieces of art canvas that could be
crafted and sewn together to make replicas of the iconic NASA spacesuits.
Project Timeline:
Ian contacted NASA’s spacesuit engineers at the Johnson Space
Center to get actual spacesuit dimensions so the replicas would be as
life like as possible. During one of Ian’s trips to NASA’s spacesuit
lab, NASA contractor ILC Dover became interested in participating in
the project. ILC Dover has manufactured all NASA space suits since
the launch of the space program in the 1960s. They offered, at no
charge, to help sew and build the children’s spacesuit replicas for the
In December 2015, well over 600 art pieces painted on canvas from
MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital were delivered to ILC
Dover for the stitching and fabrication process. Some of the ILC
Dover employees donated their time on weekends to ensure the
suit would be completed on time.
“Paint with the Astronaut” Art Studios
During a visit to NASA’s
Johnson Space Center, a few
of the patient artists were able
to meet the engineers, and
technicians involved in the suit
design for a progress update
of the spacesuit fabrication
and a tour of NASA’s
facilities. The impact of the
visit was profound. One
patient artist remarked, “One
day, I hope to work with the
space exploration vehicles at
Several of NASA’s current and retired astronauts have joined in the Spacesuit Art Project to help make art with
the kids at mini art studios at the MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital.
Project Partnership Announcement and Celebration
The “HOPE” suit debuted at a special unveiling event at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
The Johnson Space Center’s Director Ellen Ochoa, MD Anderson President Ronald DePinho, and ILC Dover’s
Chief Engineer, David Graziosi made remarks to a packed house. Also making comments on the positive power
of art in the healing process were Ian Cion, Nicole Stott and Jacob Ballard, a 17 year-old childhood cancer
survior. After the remarks, many participated in a large art studio session to paint panels for the thrid
international spacesuit replica called “UNITY.”
Space Suit Art Project Expedition 1 World Tour
NASA Astronaut Nicole Stott and Ian Cion, take off August
31st on a historic 12 day global Art Expedition to visit three
of the four headquartered cities of the International Space
Agencies that built the International Space Station. Along
with international astronauts from the respective
International Partner Space Agencies. They will visit
various cancer hospitals in those areas and paint artistic
pieces on canvas with pediatric cancer patients. The
children’s art will travel back to NASA’s Johnson Space
Center and ILC Dover will assemble the pieces of art in to a
third space suit replica called “UNITY”. The making of this
suit is an international collaboration between
international space agencies, hospitals, and space
companies that will bring global awareness to the issues
surrounding the fight against childhood cancers.
Art Expedition 1 Mission Profile
12 Day Mission
Childhood Cancer Awareness Month Space-to-Ground Conference
The month of September has been designated as National Childhood
Cancer Awareness month. To honor that and help raise awareness, the
children at MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital along with help
from NASA Astronaut Kate Rubins, Nicole Stott, and Ian Cion they
painted a NASA type flight suit. This hand-painted flight suit was
launched on a cargo resupply spacecraft to the International Space
Station where Astronaut Kate Rubins is now living and working. On
September 16th Kate will do a live space-to-ground conference from the
International Space Station with NASA’s Mission Control Center and
several of the children from the hospital who helped her paint the flight
suit before she left on her Expedition mission.
Museum Exhibitions
The Hope 1: Spacesuit Art exhibit opened at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston with a presentation on the
“Power of Art in Medicine” and the spacesuit stayed for a four day exhibit which was seen by over 2,500 visitors.
Project Partnerships
The Project will reach a global audience and not only spread the word about the battle against childhood
cancer but also to inspire children around the world to become the next generation of scientists, researchers,
doctors and explorers. The current partners on the project are NASA, the University of Texas MD Anderson
Cancer Center Children’s Cancer Hospital, ILC Dover and Space Center Houston.
Some of the Spacesuit Artist
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